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Iraqis Now Control 15 of 26 Government Ministries

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2004 – With just over two weeks remaining before the formal handover of sovereignty on June 30, the transition of authority to Iraq's new government is more than half complete, Coalitional Provisional Authority officials said in Baghdad today.

Senior CPA spokesman Dan Senor told reporters that nearly 60 percent of the Iraqi government already has been turned over to Iraqi control.

Thus far, 15 of Iraq's 26 newly established ministries are under Iraqi control, he said. The other 11 ministries will be turned over within the next two weeks, he added.

The turned-over Iraq ministries are oil, foreign affairs, health, education, public works and municipalities, science and technology, agriculture, displacement and migration, culture, water resources, industry and minerals, planning and development, youth and sports, environment, and transportation.

"These Iraqis are already making the decisions, and carrying out the day-to-day responsibilities of their own government, for their own people," he said. "And these ministers are already responsible for their own policies, strategies and budget."

Those remaining to be turned over are defense, interior, justice, higher education, electricity, communications, human rights, housing and construction, labor, social affairs and trade.

Senor reminded reporters said that "as the coalition's role in governance and operations management decreases, the amount of Iraq's authority over its own affairs increases."

He said that although Iraqis will be in charge of the separate ministries and the majority of workers will be Iraqis, "there will be coalition consultants that remain to provide technical assistance after the June 30 handover."

For example, he said, the 11,000-employee Ministry of Agriculture will have five coalition consultants. The Ministry of Electricity, with 45,000 employees, will have nine consultants. The Ministry of Education, the largest of all agencies with 300,000 employees, will have no consultants, he said.

In addition to the progress made with Iraq's ministries, Senor also noted that 90 percent of the country's municipalities have operating city or town councils. Also, he said, there are now hundreds of political parties in which Iraqis are "freely and peacefully" expressing their political views.

Despite the progress, however, Senor said the coalition can expect more violence in the days leading up to June 30. He said he expects that former regime "die-hards," foreign fighters and international terrorists will come into the country and try to "throw the transition to sovereignty off track."

"We should expect the violence and, unfortunately, prepare to defend against it," he said.

Still, he noted, the progress will continue. "The Iraqis are moving forward with taking control of their government in spite of the violence," he said. "The Iraqis have made it clear to us, that they do not intend to slow down this process that has begun in earnest many weeks ago."

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